Risa Alyson Cooper, Executive Director of Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, will share Shoresh’s vision for developing Bela Farm, a rural centre for sustainable, land-based Judaism in Hillsburgh, Ontario.
She will outline the Jewish values that are guiding and grounding this 100 acre farm project and highlight the various educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and farm ventures that will animate the space.
Risa Alyson Cooper is the Executive Director of Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs. She completed her B.A. Honours at Queen’s University in Comparative Religious Studies and her M.A. at the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, focusing on Contemporary Jewish Environmental Ethics. Upon graduating, Risa moved to rural Connecticut where she worked as a Jewish environmental educator at the Teva Learning Centre for three years. She then transitioned into small-scale organic farming as a member of the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship where she grew vegetables on a four-acre farm, worked in a raw goat-milk dairy, and dabbled in the art of fermentation. In 2008, Risa returned to her native Toronto to work as the Director of Shoresh and to establish the Kavanah Garden, bringing together her experience in Jewish outdoor education with her love for Canadian soil and the plants and people that it sustains. In 2010, Risa was profiled as a Woman to Watch by PresenTense Magazine and in 2012 she was honoured to be selected as a fellow in the prestigious Joshua Venture Group Dual Investment Fellowship. In 2013, shortly following the birth of her daughter Ayda, Risa was awarded the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for exceptionalism in Jewish Education. Risa believes that growing food sustainably is an expression of her deeply-rooted Jewish ethics. Her favourite vegetable is the beet.